- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 4, 2005

A federal grand jury in Miami has returned an 84-count indictment charging 29 persons, mostly Miami-Dade County Public Schools employees, with conspiracy to possess the pain killer OxyContin with the intent to distribute and to obtain the drug with counterfeit or fraudulent prescriptions.

Named in the indictment are a doctor from Miami-Dade County, five county school bus drivers, 13 county school bus attendants, two county school custodians, a cook, a county school cashier and a former county school bus driver. Five unspecified persons also were indicted.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) spokesman Garrison K. Courtney said the indictment also includes charges of health care fraud and conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

“The DEA is committed to working with our local counterparts in combating the drug dealers who stalk this community and endanger the welfare and safety of our children,” said DEA agent Mark R. Trouville, who heads the agency’s Miami field division.

“We will continue to make federal resources available for Miami-Dade County and other communities to help curb the flow of drugs in their neighborhoods and to protect our children,” he said. “DEA has zero tolerance for drug traffickers who work with or around our children.”

According to the indictment, handed up July 29 but made public yesterday, beginning in January 2003, three of the suspects recruited others, some of whom were Miami-Dade schools employees, to participate in the conspiracy by providing their insurance identification information.

The indictment says some obtained prescriptions for OxyContin that were medically unnecessary from a co-defendant who is a physician. At a later date, some of those charged forged and counterfeited prescriptions for OxyContin using a variety of insurance identification information.

Some of those charged, the indictment says, presented the forged and counterfeit prescriptions at pharmacies in Miami-Dade and Broward counties to obtain OxyContin. They are accused of selling the filled prescriptions for cash.

In addition, the indictment says, others submitted insurance claims to UnitedHealth Group, fraudulently claiming reimbursement for the cost of the prescriptions. It says nearly 100 forged, counterfeit or medically unnecessary prescriptions for the prescription OxyContin — accounting for thousands of OxyContin tablets — were presented to the pharmacies.

“Public school employees hold special positions of trust,” said U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta, whose office will prosecute the case. “They serve as role models for our children. Their actions, as much as their words, teach what is right and what is wrong.

“There is no evidence here that these individuals distributed controlled substances to children in their care. These school employees are charged, however, with violating federal drug laws, and that is something that we in Dade County cannot tolerate in our school employees.”

Mr. Courtney said each of those charged faces 20 years in prison and $1 million fines, if convicted.

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